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The Beatles

I’ve never known many nursery rhymes or good songs to sing to Ava at night.  I can sing the entire album “The Downward Spiral” by Nine Inch Nails, but you wouldn’t understand half the songs if you had to omit all the “fucks” from the lyrics.  So it’s very lucky that I also know a lot of Beatles Songs.  Even more lucky, Ava loves hearing Beatles songs.  The first song she ever memorized was “In My Life.”

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As Ava learns about language, she has started to ask about the song lyrics I sing during bedtime.  In the Beatles song “I’m So Tired,” John Lennon sings “I’d give you everything I’ve got for a little piece of mind.”  Ava wanted to know why the singer would give a “piece of mind.”  We had a long talk about what an expression is and how the song is about a man who needs comfort.

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We also talk about the meaning of songs.  Ava was really worried when I told her that “Yesterday” is about a women who doesn’t love a man anymore.  I explained that they were just dating and not family because she was worried that it could happen to her.  We spent a long time talking about how family never leaves.  In terms of meaning, Ava much prefers “In My Life” because I explained that it’s about how a mom realizes that all her relationships mean nothing once she has her daughter.

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I think I need to stop singing “Norwegian Wood” because there’s no delicate way to explain to a three-year old that the song is about how a man is scorned because a woman won’t sleep with her so he burns her house down.

 

Cape Cod

Ava has now visited both coasts!

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We spent 11 days in Cape Cod in a little house on a pond in Orleans, MA.  The pond was great because the temperature was wonderful, unlike the Atlantic ocean, which was way too cold.  Fortunately, Skaket Beach is perfect because the water is very shallow.  The shallowness means it’s safer for kids and the water is warmer.  Also, no one is at the beach when it’s a little cloudy out.

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Skaket Beach is on the side facing the mainland so it makes for gorgeous sunsets.

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The other beach in Orleans is Nauset Beach and it was way too fucking cold.  It had fun waves, but Ava got cold so quickly she insisted that I hold her while we were in the water so only her toes would get wet.  As a result, we went to Skaket Beach about 10 times as compared to a single visit to Nauset Beach.  It’s hard to beat these views.

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Although we spent most of the time in the water, Ava and I also visited a couple of museums.  She liked the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History.  I found it a bit puzzling because the people who worked there don’t seem to understand that the people who designed the museum designed it for kids. The employees went around telling kids not to touch things.  I’m still confused about why they had these big bins with fish and plants and step stools for the kids and yet they got mad when the kids would stick their hands inside the bins.  But Ava didn’t mind and she had the best time.  Especially in the shark cage.

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And with the bird exhibit.

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Ava was less thrilled about our visit to the Cape Cod Museum of Art, but I think it was a valuable experience.  I would show her different artistic techniques and explain how she had used similar techniques.  Art is really important to Ava so I hope she’ll develop a love of art history.

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I already miss Cape Cod.  Although I’ve been living in the West for over a decade, it still doesn’t feel right because everything is so dry.  It felt right to be living in a lush environment.  Ava liked all the animals and insects.  She saw her first lightening bugs, caterpillars, and toads.  This little toad lived in a stump right outside the house.  We would check on him several times a day.

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In some ways I’ve felt like Ava has been three for months, but the night before her birthday I was incredibly sad to no longer have a two-year old.  I love how she’s growing up and our conversations, but I miss baby Ava.

 

Independence/Motor Skills

  • Ava likes to copy our behaviors, so we’re trying to get her to be a helper.

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  • I don’t want to jinx it, but Ava is potty trained.  She’s been wearing underwear with very few accidents.  One day her nanny put her in underwear and Ava went with it!  I had been hesitating because I’m lazy and I didn’t want to deal with the pee, so I’m super grateful to Ava’s nanny.
  • Ava thankfully likes to wear a sunhat.  We went to a shaded area and she said she didn’t have to wear her sun hat because it’s a sun hat and not a shade hat.
  • Ava loves stories.  She especially loves stories that involve herself.  I used to tell her stories where she’s the main character and after I finished, she’d always say “Again!”  Now Ava has started interjecting details and telling her own stories.
  • At night I sing songs about an animal in the bed that rolls over and a mother animal looking for her babies. The type of animal changes every night or  there’s a new activity.  Tonight ducks were eating macaroni while they played.  There’s also often a new animal on the bus that I have to sing about.
  • Ava has been extra interested in our Worf cutout lately.  She likes to draw pictures for him and read to him with her nanny.

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Foods and Liquids

  • I think Ava’s favorite food right now is French fries.
  • Ava’s favorite drink is kombucha.  She calls is “bucha.”

Sleep

  • Sleep is pretty consistent.  Ava usually naps about once every 1-2 weeks.  I prefer for her to not nap unless her skipping naps starts to wear on her and she seems chronically grumpy.

Language Skills

  • Last month Ava was obsessed with the word “macaroni.” I can’t tell you how happy she was when one of her books had a part about Macaroni Penguins.  Ava already loves penguins so  Macaroni Penguins are the best!
  • Ava’s newest word is “muggle.”  She has no experience with Harry Potter so I think it’s just a word that she enjoys the sound of.  The other night she described a muggle as a grey thing with pink eyes and green hair that eats fish and drinks milk.  It moves using slime and at night they all sleep in the pockets of our clothing.  I drew one for her – what do you think?

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  • Ava didn’t think it was accurate.  I was rather disappointed.  I thought we had the makings of a fantastic children’s book.

 

 

 

 

Easter

Ava had a great Easter.  We gave Ava an Easter basket first thing in the morning.  We tried to make it healthy by adding egg-shaped fruit to the basket like a kiwi, a mango, and a papaya.  Ava was more excited about the chocolate, though.  And the plastic duck, especially the plastic duck.

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After breakfast we attended our street’s annual Easter egg hunt.  These events are the reason that we live on this street.  Everyone participating in the hunt dropped off 15 eggs on Saturday.  The hosts combined the eggs and planted them on the street.

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Last year Ava enjoyed picking up eggs.  This year Ava was more interested in the contents of the eggs.  So much so that she found four eggs and wanted to open them instead of continuing to hunt.  Then ten minutes later she realized there were more eggs to search for.  Fortunately, someone put a ton of eggs in a bush next to our house so we pilfered from there.  Last year there was no candy in the eggs, this year it was about 70% candy.  Ava approved.

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One person who filled Easter eggs does not understand child safety, though, because they filled some eggs with magic capsules.  These things look like pills, but when you put them in water the gel capsule dissolves and this foam inside expands to look like an animal.  That’s an incredibly dangerous thing to have around toddlers.  If a kid ate one, they’d end up needing surgery!  Fortunately, when we explained this to Ava she understood and didn’t try to eat them.  Instead, she focused on the Easter eggs that included balloons!

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We’re still using the Easter materials.  Ava enjoys mixed media and she’s been taping the plastic eggs and the grass that comes in Easter egg baskets to paper.  After Easter we went up and down the street trying to find more grass for her to use, which was delightful because we helped Ava with her art and cleaned up the neighborhood.

 

 

Ava is 35 Months Old

I’ve been telling people that Ava is three for months because it seems ridiculous to say that she’s still two.  She’s too tall and she talks too much to be called a two-year old.  I feel like no change could be greater than the transition from two to three when a child goes from knowing a few distinct words to having nonstop conversations.

Independence/Motor Skills

  • Ava is starting to enjoy dressing up.  I’m happy because we have so many things for her to dress up in that were going unused.  Plus, it’s so much fun.  Unlike two Halloweens ago when Ava was hysterical about having to wear her Yoda costume, now she’s thrilled.

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  • Stonewall was sick last weekend and Ava was so brave about it.  I discovered that Stonewall was having seizures on Saturday morning so I took him to the vet.  I was gone for two hours so things were very different for Ava.  She understood what was happening and asked a lot of questions about it.  Stonewall is better now, but Ava is still working through it.  She pretends one of her bird toys is sick and has to go to the vet.

Foods and Liquids

  • Ava is a champion eater of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

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Sleep

  • Ava needs about 11 hours of sleep a night, which is right in the middle for a three-year old.  I’m very grateful that her sleep schedule is pretty reasonable right now.  She’s asleep between 8-10 every night and up at 7-8:30.

Language Skills

  • One book that Ava loves is called “Dragons Love Tacos.”  The story is that you’re not supposed to give dragons tacos with spicy salsa because it makes them breathe fire.  This guy throws a party and accidentally gives them salsa with jalapeños and, as a result, the dragons burn the guy’s house down.  When we tell Ava that some of our food is too spicy she says: “Don’t eat it, you’ll burn the house down.”
  • I read a book to Ava the other night that is really beautiful.  It’s about a child that doesn’t want to go to bed so her parents tell her about how all the other animals go to bed, including the bat, which folds its wings and falls asleep.  I never know how much attention Ava pays to a book.  But it was clear this time when we finished the book and Ava said “I will fold my arms like a bat.”

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  • One of Ava’s favorite songs is “I Don’t Recall” by Lavender Diamond.  Every time Ava hears it, when the song is about to end she says: “One more time.”
  • When Ava likes a song but she doesn’t know the words, she just says “meow, meow, meow” along with the melody.
  • Ava’s favorite word is macaroni.  I think she just likes how it sounds.  She’s been calling me “mommy mac,” which is short for “mommy macaroni.”
  • Ava’s been telling this joke that she finds hilarious.  She asks what something is saying, be it a bird flying overhead or a house.  She’ll ask what the thing is saying, and then she speaks for it – “I want milk!”

San Diego

We recently took a trip to San Diego.  Ava was so amazing during the travel.  We didn’t even tell her about the airplane until we were an hour from leaving for the airport because otherwise Ava would have asked about the airplane every five minutes until we left.  And if it gets too difficult, we can play Fruit Ninja on my phone.  Ava is pretty good at it; she gets really excited when a bomb appears in the game.

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We stayed at this great apartment with views of the Coronado bridge.  The area was a bit unsafe for walking because it was a block away from a huge homeless shelter.  But a great thing about a busy city like San Diego is that you can get food delivered from anywhere.  We had two kinds of poke and lobster!

 

The apartment was part of a huge complex.  Our unit was on floor 32 and there were plenty of floors above us.  Ava kept her cat identity in San Diego and she decided she should tell people in the complex about her cat qualities.  She’d say: “I’m a kitty!  I have sharp claws and soft fur peeking out of my shirt.  Will you pet my belly?”  She did this to a guy in the elevator and he became incredibly uncomfortable until Jon made a joke about how Ava just made everything weird.  When she did this to the women, they loved it.

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On our first full day we went to the New Children’s Museum.  If you have kids and you do anything in San Diego, it should be to visit the New Children’s Museum.  Not only did they have a ton of different areas with fun things, but they had an area for kids that are four and under.  The museum is also perfectly designed for kids because it had a quiet area in the basement where kids could read books or relax.  Ava didn’t nap the whole trip, but she still needed her typical napping hour for quiet time.  She sat and drank a bottle and then was able to go back to being wild and crazy.  They also had a taco truck with the best fish tacos I’ve ever eaten.

The first exhibit at the museum was a room filled with white sand and gold glitter.  The exhibit had filters and sieves and when you filter out the sand, the gold glitter is left so it’s like mining for gold!  Ava would have happily spent the entire time in that room, but when she started trying to sleep in the sand, we took her out.

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Jon enjoyed the museum too.

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The next day, we went to the San Diego Zoo.  The zoo is in Balboa Park, which is huge.  It’s amazing to think that a major city could have such a huge amount of green space.  We visited a petting zoo section and took a bus ride of the park, but then Ava was done.  I was really proud of her because she told us that she wanted to go home.  It’s so great to have a toddler with enough language skills to tell you what she’s feeling.

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On the last day, Ava and I hung out with our wonderful friend Tiffany!  We can’t wait to go back.

 

 

 

Ava Is 34 Months Old

Independence/Motor Skills

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  • Ava is still deeply committed to being a kitty.  The other night she insisted that she didn’t need to wear pajamas to bed because her fur would keep her warm enough.
  • Ava is back to fighting potty training.  I don’t understand why she keeps going back and forth but it’s not the sort of thing I want to push because it would make the process worse.  She’s dry throughout the night and sometimes she doesn’t pee in her diaper for an hour after she wakes up.
  • Ava is getting better at identifying her emotions.  When she gets upset she’ll say “Kitty is sad!  Kitty is not happy!”  After she has a meltdown, she’ll say “I was sad and I cried!”

Foods and Liquids

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  • Food is still a bit random.  Ava doesn’t like skins on things like apples and potatoes.  But she likes the apples and potatoes without the skin.
  • She loves fish.  The other day I made some delicious salmon and it was the only thing she was willing to eat for dinner.  But she doesn’t like lobster meat, go figure.

Sleep

  • Sleep is the same.  Ava has been more into naps lately, I think because she has a lingering sickness.

Language Skills

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  • No longer is Ava merely repeating words she’s heard before.  Now she’s assembling concepts together, sometimes with hilarious results.  I don’t ever want to forget these anecdotes.
  • Like most toddlers, Ava has a habit of putting gross things in her mouth.  She’ll suck on the metal sides of a grocery cart, she’ll put pennies in her mouth, etc.  We’ll tell her not to do that and she’s started justifying her actions.  At first it was in a very smart lawyerly way that recognizes distinctions between concepts.  If you said, “Don’t put that penny in your mouth,” She’d respond: “I’m just licking it.”  But now she’s taken it a step further.  The other day Ava was painting and for some reason she loves painting her lips with watercolor paint.  When her nanny told her to stop, she said: “I’m just thinking about owls.”  Like she was contemplating owls while her paintbrush merely rested on her lips.  Brilliant!
  • The other day Ava and I were laying in bed and I said “Ava, I love you.”  Ava responded, “I need a hug and a kiss!”
  • Some of the excuses are a little sneaky, though.  Sometimes Ava will be up to no good and when you tell her not to do something like hit you, she says “I’m just trying to make you laugh.”
  • Ava doesn’t like it when her nanny leaves at the end of the work day.  She will often tell her nanny “I want to come too.”  The other day when I came out of my office, she pointed at me and said: “No.  I don’t want you.  I don’t love you.”  I have to admit, it hurt.

Ava is 33 Months Old

Independence/Motor Skills

  • Ava is still very committed to being a kitty.  Her nanny fashioned a tail out of a bow tie and it was a necessity for the next week.  Then Ava remembered that last Halloween I had made whiskers for her and she asked for them again.
  • One night when we were putting Ava to bed, Jon was going through this meditation technique with Ava where you shut off different body parts.  You start with the feet and move up the body until all the body parts are shut off and the person falls asleep.  When Jon told Ava that he was shutting off her hands, she yelled, “No, those are my paws!”
  • Sometimes people think we named Ava Kitty because we call her that.  I assure them it’s all at her insistence.

Kitty and her tail

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Foods and Liquids

  • Ava is still being a bit random about the foods she likes and dislikes.  Lentils and mushrooms are a safe bet.  Also, bread with butter, although she strongly prefers the butter over the bread.

Sleep

  • It’s still hard to get Ava to fall asleep quickly without milk as a crutch.
  • Ava hardly ever takes a nap during the week and she even forfeits her nap sometimes on the weekends.  It’s easier when she doesn’t nap because it means the difference between a 9pm bedtime or a 10-11pm bedtime.
  • Ava has been having vivid dreams about animals.  She’s woken up convinced that Teddy was in the bed, asking about birdies, looking for horses, thinking that the bed was filled with spiders, and that her hair was covered in ants.

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Language Skills

  • Ava is a constant chatterbox.  She has a lot of complex thoughts and she always wants to know what other people (or animals) are saying.
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  • If there’s ever conflict in a tv show, Ava demands that it be turned off.  She sometimes uses the same term for real life, like if she doesn’t like what you’re doing she’ll say “Turn it off.”
  • Sometimes Ava will say, “I don’t like that, it turns my feelings.”  Also, “That makes me sad and grumpy.”
  • Jon noticed that Ava often narrates her life as if she’s ready a story.  She’ll say, “Kitty doesn’t like that.”   Or, “Kitty says, ‘meow, meow, meow.'”  She tells you about events that happened to her, but she amps up the drama.  “I fell in a puddle and I got hurt.  I cried, and Linda cried, and mommy cried, and daddy cried, and PEOPLE cried.  The end.”
  • When Ava gets upset about something, we often say “That’s okay.”  So when Ava started doing things she shouldn’t, like climbing on the bench for the dining room table, I would tell her not to and she would say “That’s okay” and keep doing it.

Ava Is 32 Months Old

Independence/Motor Skills

  • Ava is doing really well with potty training.  She can stay dry for most of the day if I’m good about getting her on the potty every few hours.  She even went diaperless for a few hours tonight and it went well!
  • We had some furniture delivered and the delivery men allowed Ava to explore their truck.  They even let her push the horn.

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Foods and Liquids

  • Ava’s food is confusing this month.  She refused to eat a calzone, but she will eat her weight in lentils.

Sleep

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  • Ava no longer prefers her bed.
  • We upgraded to a king-sized bed so now all three of us sleep in the same bed!
  • Ava threw up in the bed last week so we decided to stop giving her unlimited amounts of milk at night.  I should have stopped her from drinking milk at night awhile ago since she doesn’t actually need the milk.  But I didn’t want the struggle.  It’s been taking a lot longer for Ava to fall asleep now.  I really hope she learns to fall asleep without milk soon.

Language Skills

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  • Ava is obsessed with this song about a mommy duck that loses all its babies but they come back in the end.  Ava modifies the song to express any disappointment now.  She sings some variation of “Sad little kitty went out one day, over the hills and far away.  Sad little kitty said ‘meow meow meow’ and no baby kitties came back back back.”  It’s very melodramatic and makes you want to roll your eyes and laugh at the same time.

2016 Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

I went to visit a client in New Jersey.  It was not particularly exciting.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last Year

(1) Lose Weight 

FitBit says I’m at the same weight now that I was last year.  However, I gained five pounds after the Hawaii vacation due to eating every fish burrito in sight.  I’m okay with that, though, because next year I’m going to lose a ton of weight.  Last May I started going to barre because I would get completely exhausted after a weekend with Ava, which is ridiculous.  Not only did I get my energy back, but I have serious muscles now and I’ve stopped throwing my back out every week.

Since starting barre last May, I had only thrown my back out once.  But with vacation and the holidays I went two weeks with only one class.  And guess what?  I threw my back out worse than it’s ever been.  And the thing that fixed it was going to more barre classes.  So I’m newly committed to going to barre three times a week.

(2) Avoid having to toss any produce from our CSA

I did a decent job of this.  I got a little obsessed with using all the produce, though, and instead of opening up new meals by giving me exotic produce, it wound up limiting me because I had to stick to using the produce instead of trying new recipes with ingredients that weren’t in the CSA.  The CSA was a bit too focused on including either collard greens or swiss chard every week, and there are only so many recipes in the world for collard greens and swiss chard.  I will say, though, that I can now add to my list of skills, the ability to consume six pounds of cabbage in a single week.

(3) Make time to get a personal trainer or take bootcamp classes

I didn’t do this at all, but barre is even more satisfying.  I wanted to find an exercise that was varied enough to keep me interested.  Barre is great because there are different instructors and each instructor changes the routine every 1-2 weeks.

Next Year

(1) Improve Health

(a) Lose Weight

I’d like to lose 20 pounds next year and I think that’s very doable.  I take three barre classes a week and I’m getting better with eating healthier foods.  As I get older, crappy foods make me sick.  One bite of cheap chocolate gives me a horrific headache.  So I make more foods at home, which means the food is much healthier.

(b) Develop More Muscles

Barre was great this year for helping me develop more stomach muscles.  After having Ava, I had ruined my abs so at the beginning of doing barre I couldn’t even do the exercises.  Eventually, I could do the exercises, but not very well.  This year my goal is to be able to do all the exercises while maintaining proper form.

(2) Get Control of My Work

I’ve spent the past year being constantly behind with my workload and I hate it.  Before I had Ava, I could fix it by working through a weekend and working more during the weekdays.  Now I have to fix the problem by refusing assignments, which is hard for me.

(3) Organize the House

I cook at a hobby.  As a result, my kitchen is a mess of spices and cookware.  I’m hoping this year that I can organize the kitchen and take back the countertops.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No.

5. What countries did you visit?

None.  We’re thinking of remedying that this year.  Ava did so amazing on the trip to Hawaii that I’m more open to flying with her.  She was so excited about being on the airplane.  On the trip out to Hawaii, we took a seven-hour flight from SLC to Honolulu and then a flight from Honolulu to Kauai.  After the second flight Ava asked if we were going on another airplane right.  The flights back were even better because the one from Honolulu to SLC was a red-eye and Ava slept almost the entire time.  I’m considering a trip to Vancouver for summer vacation.

Also, I like to track which parts of the country I went to, which was: Alexandria, VA; New Jersey; Palo Alto, CA; Portland, OR; and Hawaii.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

I want everything to be less stressful.

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

November 8th was pretty memorable since I went from being confident about having the first female president, to worried, to so concerned that I went to bed hoping a miracle would happen overnight.  Since then I’ve been avoiding most political things on Facebook and trying to keep my news limited to mostly the Wall Street Journal and a little NY Times.  I skip over anything political on Twitter because that place is a cesspool of anxiety if you read the political tweets.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I have muscles in my arms that I’ve never had before.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Little things everyday that sometimes snowball into feeling like a complete failure.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nope.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I finally bought some comfortable lounge clothing.  Since I work from home, why not wear yoga pants and tunics?

12. Where did most of your money go?

The mortgage.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Ava’s progression has been amazing.  She went from knowing distinct words, to stringing together sentences, to providing detailed stories about her animals.

14. What songs will always remind you of 2016?

Masterpiece by Big Thief.  This is one of Ava’s favorite songs and she has excellent taste.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:


– happier or sadder? Happier.
– thinner or fatter? Thinner.
– richer or poorer? Richer.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?


Read.  I only read a few books last year and it’s a nice time for me to do exactly what I want.  But it’s always a competition between reading and sleep, and sleep has to win out.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Struggle.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

Nice relaxing day.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Life in Pieces is hilarious.  Funny story, when we started watching it I pointed to one of the actors and told Jon, “He looks like he could be Tom Hanks’ son.”  Guess what?!  His name is Colin Hanks.  I was confused because I only knew about the racist son.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I can’t actually recommend a lot of what I read last year because they were parenting books.  The two books I really enjoyed were:

(2) Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China by Fuchsia Dunlop.  I found that I really enjoy memoirs by chefs.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?


I really like Big Thief.  But mostly I spent the year listening to my playlist of music and music Spotify thought I might like.  I listened to a lot of Dinosaur Jr.  I’m trying to narrow down my playlist since it’s 1,800 songs.  I’m finally over my 90’s obsession.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

I’m…not sure I watched a single movie this year.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 36.  It wasn’t memorable.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I need to find an amazing life-changing book.  I’ve been reading decent books for the last year, but in 2015 I read books that changed me as a person.  I’d like to find that again.

25. What kept you sane?

Coffee.

 

 

 

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